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Western Pennsylvania wakes up to blanket of snow; schools delayed, closed

| Sunday, March 24, 2013, 7:51 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
After cleaning the sidewalks at the Freeport Eagles, Mike Babinsack uses a snowblower to clear an entire block of neighboring walkways along Riverside Drive on Monday, March 25, 2013.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Matthew Daly stands a top a large snowball he made with his dad Robert, originally from Penn Hills, Monday, March 25, 2013 in Schenley Park. The Palm Beach, FL family got to take advantage of the regions extended winter as several inches of additional snow dropped.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
With wet snow covering the branches above them, enterprising snow shovelers seek their next sidewalk to shovel for pay on Pleasant Avenue in New Kensington on Monday, March 25, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Josh Simon shovels the newly fallen snow from the sidewalk in front of Enrich Products on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg on Monday, March 25, 2013.

Winter-weary Western Pennsylvanians endured record snowfall on Monday, when many hoped for even a faint sign of spring.

“The snow is pretty, but it's time for spring,” said Marcia Petkovich, 63, owner of Puhlman's Flower Shoppe in Carnegie, after clearing heavy snow from her car.

Forecasters expect cold weather to last through the week. Daytime highs won't reach the 40s until the weekend but on Sunday could hit the mid-50s, a typical high for the last week of March, said meteorologist John Darnley of the National Weather Service in Moon.

The 4.1 inches of snow that fell was the most for the date in Pittsburgh, although the storm that started Sunday night dropped a total of 4.3 inches. One inch of snow fell on March 25, 1947, the previous record.

More inconvenient than disruptive, the storm made roads sloppy, delayed some school openings and caused minor power outages. The heaviest snowfalls were in Washington and Greene counties, where some locations reported six inches. Garrett County, Md., received 12 inches.

“Flowers are supposed to be popping up, not icicles on the trees,” said Michelle Artman, 44, of Munhall, an employee of Waffles INcaffeinated in the South Side. National Weather Service records show 54.6 inches of snow fell in the region this season, well above the average 42 inches.

“People don't realize it because most of the snow was in small amounts,” Darnley said.

He said snow fell in varying amounts on 91 days. Pittsburgh averages about 40 days with snow each year, according to currentresults.com, a science website.

Four times the city has recorded snowfalls of six inches or more after March 23: 11.2 inches on April 8, 1902; 12.7 inches on April 3, 1901; 7 inches on March 30, 1883; and 7.7 inches on April 3 and 4, 1987. A trace of snow has fallen as late as May 31.

Last year during the second two weeks of March, the thermometer rose into the 80s on three days and above 70 degrees on 11 days, records show.

“We were picking asparagus at this time last year,” said Adam Voll, whose family owns Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park.

Apple and cherry blossoms appeared five weeks early. When temperatures later fell below freezing, the cold snap destroyed about 30 million bushels of fruit in the Northeast and Midwest.

“We would much rather have it the way it is this year. We have not planted anything yet,” said Voll, who lost a peach crop last year.

Bill Alko, 47, of Pleasant Hills said he was excited to see the snow.

“Maybe I can get another weekend of skiing in,” he said.

Heidelberg Manager Joe Kauer said public works crews were prepared for the snowfall but “everyone's ready for spring.”

“I'll take a bee sting over a snowstorm any day,” he said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com. Staff writers Doug Gulasy and Stephanie Hacke contributed.

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